American says the staffing snafu caused by a glitch in its pilot scheduling system is almost resolved.
There was "little change in the flights that are unassigned" on Thursday, said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association (APA).
A lot of lucky American Airline pilots were able to schedule Christmas vacation this year, staying earthbound with family instead of flying hither and yon. It has about 15,000 active pilots and expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December.
For its part, American has offered 1.5-times regular pay to pilots who volunteer to fly the affected flights, which run from December 17 to December 31.
This means that a much larger than normal number of the airliner's pilots are scheduled for vacation between December 17 and December 31.
The scheduling system error showed that flights had ample staffing when they were really left unmanned, including those from major hubs like New York, Chicago, Dallas and Miami.More news: Renewed clashes between settlers, Palestinians following fatal shooting
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"That number of open flights continues to decrease thanks to our pilots who are stepping up to the plate and picking up trips to ensure customers are taken care of", Aran Coello said in a statement. Reserve pilots, however, can only pick up flights 24 hours before departure, so the flights that they are eventually assigned to are now unclaimed.
"In addition, we have more reserve pilots on hand in December than normal months, and they provide us with the ability to fly numerous trips that are now uncovered", spokesman Matt Miller said. Now, the company says the number of flights with pilot staffing issues has been slashed to just a "few hundred" and continues to drop.
The error, disclosed to employees on Friday and widely reported this week, was an "isolated incident" and a "mistake", Miller said.
In reference to American Airlines' promised hourly pay rate increase, APA, in a statement, claims that "Because management unilaterally created their solution in violation of the contract, neither APA nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered".
"I'm watching a "Grinch that stole Christmas" thing happening", he added to Reuters.
"It's a big problem and we want to see it fixed but we haven't been approached by American management with a plan that works for them and works for us", said Overman.